The brothers of jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste say they’ll never stop fighting for his freedom after Egypt’s new president crushed their hopes of a presidential pardon.
Andrew and Mike Greste were given the news after emerging from their first visit with their brother since an Egyptian court jailed him on Monday for seven years for spreading false news.
The brothers emerged from Cairo’s Tora prison complex to learn that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had used a speech to graduating soldiers to say he would not interfere in judicial matters.
“We have to respect judicial rulings and not comment on them even if others don’t understand them,” Sisi said.
The family had earlier said appealing for a presidential pardon was one of the first things they would consider in the campaign to free Peter.
With that apparently no longer a prospect, they must now decide whether to lodge an appeal with the same judiciary that convicted him.
Greste, and his Al Jazeera colleagues Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, were found guilty on Monday of reporting false news in the wake of the 2013 coup that ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
They were also convicted of supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist organisation after the coup.
Andrew Greste appeared devastated when an ABC reporter in Cairo told him of Sisi’s comments on the case.
“That’s pretty damaging, heartbreaking news,” he said.
He said the family must now consider an appeal, but no decision had been made yet about that.
He said his brother was displaying incredible strength in the wake of Monday’s ruling.
“Oh he’s remarkably together. It’s unbelievable really,” Andrew Greste told the ABC.
“I guess we’ve all had a day to digest and process the result. Obviously it was an emotional reunion.”
The brothers said Peter had been told he’d soon be moved to a different prison within the Tora complex, and it had been suggested his conditions may improve.
But now he’s been found guilty, his entitlement to family visits will drop from one a week to one a fortnight.
The brothers will continue splitting their time between Egypt and Australia to support Peter, and keep him informed about the next step in efforts to secure his release.